OH NO! A Ramone’s song just came back to me! “I don’t wanna grow up…”
A brief note about our social science authors from their bio’s: Christian Smith is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Society at the University of Notre Dame. Smith’s research focuses primarily on religion in modernity, adolescents, American evangelicalism, and culture.
Kenda Creasy Dean is an ordained United Methodist minister and Professor of Youth, Church, and Culture at Princeton Theological Seminary. Before receiving her Ph.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, she was a pastor and campus minister in Maryland.
Each author speaks to the idea of what shapes our thinking, feeling, and resulting in our behaviors. It seems best to be positioned in that order. This post seems to help tie our first few blogs together that focused on what influenced Evangelicalism, Protestantism, and consumerism.
I found a few brief examples regarding the idea of shaping from each author that caught my attention.
Smith wrote, “People, of course, do a lot to shape their own personal lives. But they also always do so in the context of larger social and cultural realities that influence and govern their lives.”
Smith seeks to influence us to better understand what shapes us by writing, “To adequately understand people’s lives, we need to understand not only their decisions and actions but also the social contexts in which their lives and choices are embedded. We need to see, how their assumptions, beliefs, and aspirations have been formed and internalized.”
Dr. Dean wrote, “Christian formation invites young people into this motley band of pilgrims and prepares them to receive the Spirit who calls them, shapes them, and enlists them in God’s plan to right a capsized world.” We are going to be formed by someone in life.
Dr. Dean also wrote, “Research is nearly unanimous on this point: parents matter most in shaping the religious lives of their children.” The power of shaping that parents have clearly had vast implications. From personal experience, there is no such having no shaping impact on children.
Shaping is a huge issue as we saw in our first few books this term. On that point, I saw a Bob Dylan concert in Seattle, WA and will never forget the raspy voice of Bob singing this song. It has influenced me to be a bit more careful about what or who shapes me.
“You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody” 
Assumptions and beliefs of others that have the power to shape. I recall that many who I studied alongside at the University of WA and Regent University pursued their diplomas for more accolades in the marketplace. I was tempted to go there as well, because I wanted to fit in, so to speak. If learning happened it seemed to be more about how to create networks, socialize, and possibly academics along the way. It seemed that higher education did not have the general or specific shaping influence it was designed to have at Regent: “Christian Leadership to Change the World.”
The good aspect of the students mentioned above is that the tribe was emerging as a core value. The power of the tribe had significant meaning and influence on whether or not its academics shaping was happening. The power of a tribe to shape continues from early childhood and has the power to do so throughout our lives.
I continue to wonder how much early childhood shapes our tendencies and beliefs. Jeffrey Arnett wrote, “For better and worse, their parents have contributed mightily toward shaping the persons they have become in emerging adulthood.” I know many of those who grew up suffered through the effects of divorce, abuse, and abandonment. As much as the parents struggled with the pain of these conditions, children did too with lasting effects they did not understand.
Will these experiences and impressions change our core beliefs to the point that our curiosity changes and vital pathways to adulthood be squashed or harmed?
As we can begin to see, imagination and influencers shape our lives by “changing our mind.” We may also need to begin to recognize that human imagination is a vital pathway in understanding leadership. What kind of learning does this require? That is debatable.
I believe that the process of imagination and influencers shaping our lives is a relatively unconscious activity. We can reflect on our own experience of learning, and we can observe the process of imagination as life seems to dissolve. Will the transformation of our experience us and new patterns of life arise out of conflicting circumstances that are confusing, disturbing, and often devastating.
Parks wrote, “Moreover, as emerging adults are the stewards of our shared future, every college, university, corporate, and military recruiter claims to be preparing tomorrow’s leadership.” Therefore, let us celebrate tribes, influencers, and imaginations. Yet, Scripture calls us to care for one another so that we do not become devastated by these blessings. Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”
 Ramone’s, “I don’t wanna grow up,” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tpu_XoNABA.
 Christian Smith, Kari Marie Christoffersen, Hilary A. Davidson, and Patricia Snell Herzog, Lost in Transition: The Dark Side of Emerging Adulthood. New York: Oxford University Press, 2011, 5.
 Ibid., 141.
 Kenda Creasy Dean, Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church, New York: Oxford University Press, 2010, 7.
 Ibid., 112.
 Ibid., 141.